What COVID Has Done to Our Personal Debt

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Whatever good the COVID-19 pandemic has done in the world, it's pretty difficult to suggest that it's been at all worth it. Even beyond the toll of the disease itself, nobody wants to deal with social distancing, long-term economic downturns, and majorly increased stress forever. Still, in the wake of all the unpleasantness, 2020 has seen some small improvements in one financial sector that's long plagued millennials in particular.

The credit agency Experian (not the one with all the leaks; that's Equifax) has just released its 11th annual State of the Credit report. Using data from American consumers, it looks at how much debt we're carrying, what our credit cards are doing for us, what our mortgages look like, and how far we're falling behind on paying debts. It may not sound like the sunniest of subjects, but compared to 2019, Americans are actually doing a little better than we were. Our average credit score has ticked up, we're carrying fewer credit cards, and we're improving our payment delinquency rates.

Experian has a vested interest in tracking these numbers, not least because it offers educational resources and products to help you course-correct and even pump up your credit score. Still, this data may not mean as much if you're one of the 1 in 3 Americans who have found themselves financially adrift because of COVID. While there are actions individuals can take to reduce their debt load and improve their credit rating, it's always worth remembering that we're up against some systemic nonsense in the economic and financial world. Do everything you can to right that ship for yourself — but also remember that uphill battles are hard no matter who you are.